Discover more information about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and how it affects the female reproductive organs.
Defining Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormone imbalance that is common in the reproductive years. PCOS can affect the frequency or duration of periods and/or cause increased levels of androgen (the male hormone). Also, the ovaries may develop small cysts, which can affect the body’s ability to release eggs on a regular basis. At this time, there is no known cause of PCOS.
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Generally, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome occurs near a female’s first period. However, significant weight gain can contribute to PCOS’ occurrence later in life.
If a female has at least two of the following symptoms, a diagnosis can be made.
Irregularity with periods. Extended, infrequent, or irregular menstrual cycles. The irregularity can range from heavy periods to five weeks between periods to fewer than nine periods in a year.
Excess of male hormones (androgens) such as Testosterone. This could result in acne or extra body and facial hair.
Polycystic ovaries. The ovaries are larger than usual. There are follicles surrounding the eggs, which might inhibit regular ovarian function.
Complications of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can cause the following complications:
- Premature birth
- Gestational diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure caused by pregnancy
- Uterine bleeding
- Endometrial cancer (cancer in the lining of the uterine)
- Depression or anxiety
- Eating disorders
- Inflammation of the liver
- Increased risk of heart disease
Diagnosing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Diagnosing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is challenging because there is no definitive test. The doctor will use the patient’s medical history and a physical exam before making a diagnosis. Other possible tests used for diagnosis could include a(n):
- Pelvic exam. This is a manual examination for growths or abnormalities of the female organs.
- Ultrasound of the uterus and ovaries. This involves the doctor looking at the thickness of the uterine lining as well as the ovaries.
- Blood test. This test can reveal imbalances and/or levels of adrogen (male hormone), glucose, or cholesterol.
- Sometimes doctors will recommend other interventions to monitor other potential complications of PCOS. These can range from blood tests to screenings for depression and/or sleep apnea.
Treatments for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
For patients who have PCOS as a result of obesity, lifestyle changes will be recommended. This includes increasing exercise and lowering calorie intake to encourage weight loss.
In other cases, doctors may suggest the following medicinal therapies to treat PCOS:
- Birth control pills. The estrogen and progestin in birth control pills decrease the production of androgen. This can lower cancer risk, reduce hair facial and body hair growth, as well as address the irregular bleeding.
- Progestin therapy. This is a therapy that can regulate periods and lower risks for endometrial cancer.
Additional therapies may be suggested to treat the complications, such as abnormal hair growth and infertility, of PCOS. More details are available after consultation with the doctor.
Contact your local URA clinic in Hasbrouck Heights, Hoboken, and Wayne, NJ for more information. Your friendly URA team will be happy to provide more details on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and discuss treatment options.